As a guest with Inside The Ropes, WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley talked about his debut with the WWE in 1996. Prior to joining the company, Foley mentioned how he had heard from people that Vince McMahon was not the biggest fan of his. Foley noted that WWE ended up caving in and signing him.
“I was not supposed to be a star in WWE,” Foley said. “I heard in good faith that Mr. McMahon was not a fan of mine, at all. The direct quote was, ‘Cactus Jack will never step foot inside of a WWE ring’. As Mick Foley, I stepped inside as Mankind.
“Even then it was just a concession to Jim Ross, he would bring up my name at every booking meeting as potential talent. Finally Mr. McMahon in the fall of 1995 slammed his hand down on a table and said, ‘Alright, I’ll bring him in but I’m covering up his face.'”
Foley also discussed the Mankind character and the look he was given. He talked about how the mask for Mankind was decided upon and how it involved The Undertaker, who had to wear a phantom of the opera type mask due to an injury he suffered from Mabel in 1995.
“One of the prototypes they did not use was the mask that ended up becoming the Mankind mask,” Foley said. “Not only would I have not gotten my break had it not been for The Undertaker, had I not been paired with The Undertaker for that initial run, I might be any number of places but there’s no way I’m here 23 years after the fact.”
The Undertaker just recently announced his retirement at the end of his docuseries on the WWE Network “The Last Ride”. Foley talked about The Undertaker and how Taker would get him excited to watch professional wrestling.
“To me, he’s the greatest character driven performer that the wrestling business has ever seen,” Foley said. “The suspension of disbelief is so important in professional wrestling and he made it so easy to do that. I’d come running for the T.V. when The Undertaker was on.”
During the time when Foley debuted with the company, there were a lot of gimmicky characters in the company. Some of the notable ones include The Repo Man, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese and even a dentist named Dr. Isaac Yankem, who would go on to become Kane. Foley talked about the original name McMahon had come up with for his character.
“Luckily somebody in creative had told me the name they had figured out for me was The Mutilator,” Foley said. “Mr.McMahon sees me and it’s about the third time we’ve met and he says, ‘Do you know your name?’ and I lied and said no and he said ‘In this business, we’ve had crushers, we’ve had destroyers, we’ve had executioners, but we’ve never had a Mutilator, and that’s what you are.’ “
“He gave me the first name of Mason, Mason the Mutilator. That’s instant death in this business. He asked what I thought and I said ‘I like it, I like it a lot, but, what if inside of Mason the Mutilator, it was Mankind the Mutilator?'”
“The Mutilator” part of the name was eventually dropped and the rest is history.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.